Karl Taylor confirmed what the statistics of Eric Doyle and Aaron Lewadniuk suggest: The two newest members of the Reign were among the most coveted 20-year-old free agents on the market.
“They’re both young kids, both offensive talents,” the Reign coach said. “We wanted to be younger. These two, along with C.J. (Stretch) help us accomplish that. We think they’ll give us more energy, more bite and chase the carrot a bit more.”
Doyle was so coveted as a 15-year-old that he was the 15th overall selection in the 2004 WHL Bantam draft. With kids so young, it’s a highly speculative process – even more so than the NHL entry draft – but for what it’s worth Doyle was drafted before future NHL first-round draft picks Luke Schenn and Alex Plante.
Taylor said that Doyle saw his NHL stock rise, then fall, over the course of his junior career.
“He’s a late bloomer, even though he’s only 20 years old,” Taylor said.
The knock on Lewadniuk, Taylor said, is skating ability, “but he finds a way to get points. … We like guys who work hard in the dirty areas.”
Doyle’s head coach in Portland was Mike Johnston, who once coached with Taylor at the University of New Brunswick. Taylor also credited Brent McEwen, a Kings scout based in Saskatchewan, for helping identify Doyle and Lewadniuk atop the list of available WHL talent.
It can only be good news that some of the top 20-year-old free agents have come to view Ontario as a destination. What still remains to be seen is if they can perform at the ECHL level. As Taylor pointed out, recruiting more offensively gifted players was the goal a year ago too, “but that didn’t work out.”
“We want to be known as a good defensive club, and that won’t change, but we wawnt more offensive-type players,” Taylor said.